Memorandum of Cooperation with the Philippines
On July 31, 2009, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood met with President Gloria Arroyo of the Republic of the Philippines and signed the first joint nonbinding Memorandum of Cooperation between the two nations to address the piracy issue. Piracy threatens the health and safety of all seafarers and disrupts the free flow of maritime commerce in major commercial corridors. The problem deeply concerns both nations, since many U.S. vessels have been threatened by these activities. Working together, the two nations seek to improve counter-piracy training and education. The agreement calls upon both nations to develop best practices to enhance vessel security, conduct drills to ensure seafarers are prepared to respond to acts of piracy, and share information. The two nations will also examine ways to strengthen legislation and regulations to address this problem.
U.S. Delegation Meetings in Japan and Korea
Japan: On July 24 and 25, 2008 Maritime Administrator Sean T. Connaughton led a delegation of U.S. maritime officials in meetings in Tokyo with Japanese counterparts to discuss issues of mutual interest and challenges facing the maritime industry, both around the world and in the bilateral trade. The talks reflected the major concern of both countries about the impact on the shipping sector of the rapidly expanding consumption of liquefied natural gas (LNG) around the world. With the surge of new specialized vessels to carry LNG entering service, the demand for qualified seafarers is becoming urgent. In meetings with Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Tourism (MLIT), the two sides discussed the U.S. LNG Deepwater Ports initiative aimed at meeting U.S. demand, using the latest technologies for LNG transport and promotion of employment for trained U.S. seafarers on LNG ships. Other topics of discussion included port development, environmental protection, trends in the bilateral shipping trade and maritime security.
Korea: On July 22, 2008 The Maritime Administration held wide-ranging discussion on Korea-US shipping cooperation with Korean Ministry of Land Transport and Maritime Affairs and with maritime industry groups. The discussions focused on the direction of shipping policy and issues such as Korea-US seafarer training programs, marine environment, 100% container scanning, and US shipping competition laws.
Memorandum of Intent
The Maritime Administration is pursuing Memorandum of Intent (MOI) worldwide. The MOI seeks to formalize maritime cooperation between the United States and another country. Currently we are working with the Governments of Greece and Korea. This maritime cooperation is also focusing in the field of training and education of maritime personnel, protection of the environment and the overall promotion of each country's maritime interests.
What We Do
The Office of International Activities is responsible for coordinating the Maritime Administration's participation in international activities concerned with maritime transportation matters, and for keeping abreast of and engaged in foreign economic and political developments which may affect United States maritime transport interests.
Mission and Functions
It is the overall mission of the Maritime Administration's Office International Activities to work on behalf of U.S. carriers and shippers, and the interest of the U.S. Government in seeking to improve maritime transport relations with certain countries and to ensure U.S. carriers' participation in the transport of U.S. international trade cargoes, in a secure, safe and competitive transportation environment. A major focus of this effort is directed at facilitating carriers' access to foreign trade cargoes and, if warranted, negotiating reciprocal foreign market access treatment for U.S. carriers in international trade, including access to port and cargo handling facilities and the ability to establish connecting intermodal truck and rail services. The Office of International Activities also acts as the foreign affairs ombudsman to resolve diplomatic problems for the maritime industry. As a result of these efforts, the U.S. industry benefits through improved market access, increased revenues, and generally improved operating efficiency in international trade for carriers and shippers, as well shipbuilders.
The Maritime Administration participates as a member of interagency teams conducting multilateral activities at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Labor Organization (ILO), World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Transportation Working Group and Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Committee on Ports (CIP). In conjunction with the United States Trade Representative and other government agencies, the Maritime Administration also frequently participates on the U.S. teams negotiating free trade agreements with other countries.